Asia-Pacific News

'Men only' job ads common in China, human rights group says

Shafi Musaddique
Key Points
  • Jobs ads designed for 'men only' found in both public and private sector
  • Alibaba recruitment message describes female workers as 'goddesses'
  • Fifty-five percent of jobs from China's Ministry of Public Security were advertised as "men only" in 2017
Jason Lee / Reuters

Sexist job advertisements remain common in China, with some recruiters reportedly using the "attractiveness" of female colleagues to bring in male applicants, according to a human rights group.

Human Rights Watch said discrimination was widespread in both China's private and public sectors, after it analysed more than 36,000 employment ads posted between 2013 and 2018.

The study found that 19 percent of civil service jobs in China were specified as "men only," "men preferred" or "suitable for men."

Fifty-five percent of jobs from China's Ministry of Public Security were advertised as "men only" in 2017.

The private sector faired little better. The watchdog said it had found a recruitment message posted on Alibaba's official Weibo account in 2013 that described its female workers as "goddesses."

"They are independent but not proud, sensitive but not melodramatic. They want to be your co-workers. Do you want to be theirs?" read the advertisement.

Human Rights Watch said the message was still visible on Alibaba's website as of February this year. A spokesperson for Alibaba said the company will enforce "stricter reviews" of job ads.

The report cited a number of other tech companies, including Tencent, as having advertised jobs for men only.

"These incidents clearly do not reflect our values," said a Tencent spokesperson. "We are sorry they occurred and we will take swift action to ensure they do not happen again."

Human Rights Watch warned gender discrimination was "getting worse" as the number of Chinese women in the workforce is down 2.5 percent compared to 10 years ago.

The World Economic Forum (WEF) ranked China in 100th place out of 144 countries for parity on gender pay.

China has officially banned gender discrimination in the workplace, but enforcement is low.